UK’s Labour suspends activist for anti-Semitic tweet

UK’s Labour suspends activist for anti-Semitic tweet

Derek Hatton, a former Liverpool council leader who headed extreme-left wing group, tweeted in 2012 that British Jews needed to denounce Israel

Derek Hatton (Screen capture: YouTube)
Derek Hatton (Screen capture: YouTube)

The UK Labour Party moved to suspend an activist on Wednesday, two days after re-admitting him to its ranks, after the discovery of a tweet he wrote in 2012 calling on British Jews to denounce Israel for its actions against Palestinians, Sky News reported.

Derek Hatton, 71, a former local municipal official in Liverpool where he led an extreme-left wing group, was expelled from the party in 1986 and was severely criticized by then-Labour leader Neil Kinnock for his militancy.

He was readmitted provisionally, pending final approval, on Monday and said it was “good to be back” in a party led by Jeremy Corbyn.

The tweet, now deleted, stated: “Jewish people with any sense of humanity need to start speaking out publicly against the ruthless murdering being carried out by Israel,” Sky News reported.

Anti-Semitism has blighted Britain’s Labour party since Corbyn took over as leader in 2015 was highlighted again on Monday when seven Labour legislators quit the party.

An eighth, Joan Ryan, who headed the Labour Friends of Israel group, became the eighth lawmaker to quit the party on Tuesday.

They have accused Corbyn of failing to stamp out anti-Semitism in the party and of mounting a weak opposition to Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans for leaving the European Union.

“This has been a very difficult, painful but necessary decision,” one of the MPs, Luciana Berger, said at a hastily arranged press conference in London, calling her former party “institutionally anti-Semitic.”

The newly  independent lawmakers hope to gain members from among disgruntled pro-Europeans in both the Labour and Conservative parties.

Earlier this month, Berger, who is Jewish, faced a no confidence vote, later canceled, by local party members who said she was “continuously criticizing” Corbyn amid the ongoing row over anti-Semitism in the party.

The lawmakers who made the initial announcement were Berger, Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker and Anne Coffey.

Many Labour lawmakers are unhappy with the party’s direction under Corbyn, a veteran socialist who took charge in 2015 with strong grassroots backing.

They have accused him of mounting a weak opposition to the Conservative government’s plans for leaving the European Union, and of failing to curb anti-Jewish prejudice in the party.

The quitters are only a fraction of Labour’s 256 lawmakers, but it is the biggest split in the party since four senior members quit in 1981 to form the Social Democratic Party.

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